Southampton midfielder Sofiane Boufal may soon return to France, after an unsuccessful two-year spell at St Mary’s.
According to the Daily Mirror, Boufal has been offered the opportunity to join Nice on loan next season. His relationship with manager Mark Hughes has reportedly broken down irreparably after the two men clashed last season. Although Marseille have been tracking the midfielder, it is considered more likely that he will join Nice.
Boufal joined Southampton from Lille in 2016, after scoring 14 goals in 43 league matches for the Ligue 1 side. His £16m transfer made him the Saints’ most expensive signing of all time.
It was hoped that the Moroccan would prove to be a worthy replacement for Sadio Mané, who joined Liverpool. However, the two players’ subsequent fortunes could hardly have been more different.
While Mané has become an integral part of the Reds’ three-pronged forward line, Boufal has struggled to make an impression for the Saints, netting just three times in 50 Premier League appearances.
The Moroccan did score one of the finest goals of the 2017/18 season against West Brom – a phenomenal solo effort in which he beat six opponents – but his impact has generally been limited.
It comes as no surprise that Boufal is expected to leave the club, as he was omitted from Mark Hughes’ squad for Southampton’s pre-season tour of China, in order to give the player more time to find a new employer.
The last few years have been a frustrating time for Boufal. As well as enduring a miserable spell at Southampton, he was left out of Morocco’s squad for this summer’s World Cup.
Few observers doubt Boufal’s talent, but doubts persist about his consistency and his attitude. On the other hand, he is only 24 years old, so he still has plenty of time to realise his potential.